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Cantata BWV 68
Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt
Discussions - Part 5

Continue from Part 4

Discussions in the Week of May 28, 2017 (4th round)

William Hoffman wrote (May 28, 2017):
Pentecost Monday Cantata 68, “Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt”

For Pentecost Monday, the second day of the three-day Pentecost feast, based on the iconic Gospel of John 3:16-18, Bach’s 1725 Cantata BWV 68, “Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt” (God so loved the world), Bach in collabration with his Leizig librettist Mariane von Ziegler fashioned a concise chorus musical sermon that emphasizes the second incarnation (through love) of Jesus Christ. The form on this symmetrical 15-minute work is the reverse of the usual, beginning with the siciliano-style chorale statement, Salomo Liscow’s 1675 paraphrase of John 3:16, and concluding with a fugal chorus motet setting of John 3:18, “Wer an ihn gläubet, der wird nicht gerichtet (Who believes in him will not be judged). In between, Bach provides parodies of two free da-capo dance-style arias from his 1713 Weißenfels Hunting Cantata BWV 208, the soprano gigue (No. 2) with violoncello piccolo, “Mein gläubiges Herze” (My faithful heart) with closing instrumental trio (oboe, violin, continuo), BWV 1040, and the bass pastorale aria with oboe trio (No. 5), “Du bist geboren mir zugute” (You have been born for my benefit), preceded with the solo recitative for bass, “Ich bin mit Petro nicht vermessen” (Like Peter I am not presumptuous), an allusion to Acts 10:26, Peter’s sermon closing, preceding the day’s Epistle, Acts 10:42-48).1

Chorus Cantata BWV 68 was premiered on Pentecost Monday, 21 May 1725 in the early main service of the St. Thomas Church before the sermon (not extant) on the day’s Gospel by Deacon Urban Gottfried Sieber (1669-1741), followed during the later vesper service at the Nikolaikirche before the sermon on the Epistle, Acts, 10:42-48, baptism of the Gentiles, says Martin Petzoldt in Bach Commentary, Vol. 2, Advent to Trinityfest.2 Cantata 68 was repeated in Leipzig between 1735 and 1740, according to minor changes in the parts. The Gospel in Bach’s time for the 1st Day of Pentecost (Monday) was John 3:16-21, Meeting of Jesus and Nicodemus: “God so loved the world . . .” ; and Epistle: Acts 10:42-48 (Peter’s sermon while Holy Spirit’s Descent Upon Cornelius and Company). The German text of Luther’s 1545 translation and the English Authorised (King James) Version 1611 is found at BCW, The introit psalm set to a polyphonic motet was Psalm 116, Dilexi, qunoiam (I love the Lord, KJV), which Petzoldt (Ibid.: 1001) calls “How one should trust and act by the cross.” It also was the introit psalm for the 25th Sunday after Trinity. The full text is found at

The cantatas Bach presented in Leipzig on the second and third days (Mondays and Tuesdays) of the Easter and Pentecost Festivals utilized existing materials, suggesting a possible reduction in the composer’s workload. The sources were primarily celebratory secular pieces composed in Köthen and Weimar for special occasions and now appropriate through parody or new-text underlay for sacred occasions, while the actual revisions often required more time to adapt. The cantatas are BWV 66 (Easter Monday); 134, 145, 158 (Easter Tuesday); 68, 173 and 174 (Pentecost Monday), and 175 and 184 (Pentecost Tuesday). While Bach turned mostly to original composition in 1725 for the nine cantatas with texts of Mariane von Ziegler, these included older music (BWV 68, and 175).

Pentecost Monday Chorales, Motets

The chorales and motets for Pentecost Monday are found in Bach’s Das neu Leipziger Gesangbuch (NLGB) of 1682 are found are found under the general de tempore (Proper Time) category of the Pentecost Festival or Sending of the Holy Spirit, NLGB Nos. 122-138, as well as selective omnes tempore (Ordinary Time) themes, as well as in other Leipzig and Dresden hymnbook sources. The selections available to Bach included, according to Douglas Cowing, BCW “Motets & Chorales for Pentecost Festival,” Introit: “Cibavit eos” (Liber Usualis 758, 790; not in NLGB) -- Psalm 81:16 – “Cibávit éos ex ádipe fruménti, allelúia: et de pétra, mélle saturávit éos, allelúia, allelúia, alleluia” [He fed them with the fat of wheat (alleluia); and filled them with honey out of the rock (alleluia, alleluia, alleluia)]; orig. Introit, Feast of Corpus Christi (Thursday or Sunday After Trinity Sunday); Motet: “Spiritus sancti gratia,” NLGB 125; “Des Heiligen Geistes reichte Gnad,” NLGB 126; Hymn de Tempore: “Komm Heiliger Geist, Harre Gott,” NLGB 123; Pulpit Hymn, “Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist,” NLGB 130; Hymns for Chancel, Communion & Closing: “Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt” (God so loved the world), S. Liscow hymn 1685, NLGB 233, Justification.

The Salomo Liscow justification hymn appropriate for the Pentecost Festival is the first of nine stanzas of this nine line hymn (ABABCCA) that paraphrases the Gospel, John 3:16. The motto is an expression of Martin Luther’s Catechism Doctrine of Justification (Rechfertigung) and is found in the NLGB in the last of the Catechism categories of Justification, NLGB Nos. 229 to 233. The assigned melody is the Gottfried Vopelius setting, Zahn 5920, in the NLGB No. 233 (Fischer-Tümpel, IV, #160). Bach changed the rhythm of the original melody from common time to 12/8 siciliano style. The introductory movement of Cantata 68 is the first verse of the chorale with the same name by Salomo Liscow from “Christlichen Frauen-Zimmers geistlicher Tugend-Spiegel” Leipzig, 1675 p. 691 with the title “Dein Jesus liebt, Ist nie betrübt.” There are 9 verses for this chorale. The text of this introductory chorale is connected to the Gospel for the 2nd Day of Pentecost (John 3:16-21. The hymn appears in the Zittauer Gesangbuch of 1730 as No. 435, says Petzoldt (Ibid. 1020), and the final three stanzas may have influenced Ziegler’s texts in the bass recitative (No. 3) and aria (no. 4). The Liscow (1640-1689) BCW Short Biography is found at

Other well-known early Reformation Justification chorale settings in the NLGB which Bach set extensively are the Spengler confessional “Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt” (Through Adam’s fall is completely corrupted), NLGB 229; Speratus’ “Es ist das Heil uns kommen her” (Salvation has come to us), NLGB 230; Kreuziger’s “Herr Christ, der einig Gottes Sohn” (Lord Christ, the only son of God), NLGB No. 231; and Luther’s “Nun freut euch, lieben Christen, g’mein” (Dear Christians, One and All rejoice), NLGB No. 232.

John 3:16 Hymn Settings

Variant paraphrase settings of John 3:16 were composed in the 17th century, beginning with the text “Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt, / Dass er uns seinen eingebornen Sohn gab.” (God so loved the world / that he sent his only begotten son to us). Heinrich Schütz set this as a five-voice motet (SATTB), 1648 in Geistliche Chor-Music, Op.11 (No.12),,,_SWV_380_(Schütz,_Heinrich, The rest of the text is: “auf daß alle die an glauben / nicht verloren warden / sondern das ewige Leben haben.” (that whosoever believeth in him / should not perish, / but have everlasting life.). The next two verses are: “Dann Gott hat seinen Sohn / nit gesandt in die Welte, / daß er die Welte richte, / sondern daß die Welt durch ihn selig werde. Wer an ihn glaubet, der wird nit gericht't; / wer aber nit glaubet, der ist schon gericht't, / denn er glaubet nicht an den Namen / des eingebornen Sohnes Gottes.” The KJV translation is: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Paul Gerhardt wrote a 17-stanza version of “Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt” in 1648 (, set to the melody” Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist” (Take courage, my weak spirit, Zahn 5741), the Johann Rist/Johann Schop 1641 Christmas setting, NGB No. 37. Bach used the melody to the text, “Du Lebensfürst, Herr Jesu Christ” (You prince of life, Lord Jesus Christ) as a plain chorale closing (No. 11) the Rudolstadt 1726 Ascension Cantata 43, “Gott fähret auf mit Jauchzen” (God ascends with shouts of joy, Psalm 47:6). Gerhardt’s “Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt” appears as No. 25 in his Register über Zuordnung der Lieder zu den Sonn- und Feiertagen des Kirchenjahres, along with Pentecost hymns "Zeuch ein zu deinen Toren"(Move into thy gates), No. 29, and “Gott Vater, sende deinen Geist” appears as No. 31. The Gerhardt (1607-1676) BCW Biography is found at as well as

Cantata 68 movements, scoring, texts, key, meter (Ziegler text and Francis Browne English Translation, BCW

1 Chorale Chorus (Larghetto) in three parts with brief instrumental prelude & ritornelli between lines, homophonic to imitation (E. “Wir glaubet”), homophonic (H. “Den Got”) (text paraphrase John 3:16) [SATB; Corno (canto) col Soprano, Oboe I e Violino I all' unisono, Oboe II e Violino II all' unisono, Taille e Viola all' unisono, Continuo]: “Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt, / Dass er uns seinen Sohn gegeben. / Wer sich im Glauben ihm ergibt, / Der soll dort ewig bei ihm leben. / Wer glaubt, dass Jesus ihm geboren, / Der bleibet ewig unverloren, / Und ist kein Leid, das den betrübt, / Den Gott und auch sein Jesus liebt.” (God so loved the world / that he gave his son to us. / Who gives himself to him in faith / will live there [in heaven] with him for ever. / Who believes that Jesus has been born for him / is never abandoned, / and there is no sorrow that troubles the person / who is loved by God and his Jesus also.); d minor; 12/8 siciliano style.
2. Aria (Presto) free da-capo [Soprano; Violoncello piccolo, Continuo]: A. “Mein gläubiges Herze, / Frohlocke, sing, scherze, / Dein Jesus ist da!” My faithful heart, / rejoice, sing, be merry, / your Jesus is here!); B. “Weg Jammer, weg Klagen, / Ich will euch nur sagen: / Mein Jesus ist nah.); “Away with sorrow, away with lamentation / I shall just say to you: / my Jesus is close.); C. Closing instrumental trio (Concerto, 27 mm; Oboe, Violono I, Violoncelo piccolo); F Major, 4/4 gigue style.
3. Recitative [Bass, Continuo]: “Ich bin mit Petro nicht vermessen, / Was mich getrost und freudig macht, / Dass mich mein Jesus nicht vergessen. / Er kam nicht nur, die Welt zu richten, / Nein, nein, er wollte Sünd und Schuld / Als Mittler zwischen Gott und Mensch vor diesmal schlichten.” (Like Peter I am not presumptuous, / what gives me comfort and makes me joyful / is that Jesus has not forgottten me. / He came not to judge the world / no. no, as mediator between God and man he wanted / to reconcile sin and guilt for ever.); d minor to G Major; 4/4.
4. Aria (Maestoso) free da capo with brief ritornelli (Ostinato C-G-a-e-C) [Bass; Oboe I/II, Taille, Continuo]: A. “Du bist geboren mir zugute, / Das glaub ich, mir ist wohl zumute, / Weil du vor mich genung getan.” (You have been born for my benefit, / I believe this, this gives me confidence, / since what you have done is enough for me.); B. Das Rund der Erden mag gleich brechen, / Will mir der Satan widersprechen, / So bet ich dich, mein Heiland, an.” (Though the circle of the earth may split apart / though Satan wants to speak against me. / yet I worship you, my saviour.); C Major; 4/4 pastorale style.
5. Chorus (Tempo ordinario) motet double fugue, homophonic last 12 mm; instruments double voices (text John 3:18) [S, A, T, B; Cornetto col Soprano, Trombone I coll'Alto, Trombone II col Tenore, Trombone III col Basso, Oboe I e Violino I all' unisono, Oboe II e Violino II all' unisono, Taille e Viola all' unisono, Continuo]: A. “Wer an ihn gläubet, der wird nicht gerichtet; / wer aber nicht gläubet, der ist schon gerichtet; / denn er gläubet nicht an den Namen des eingebornen Sohnes Gottes.” (Who believes in him will not be judged; / but who does not believe is already judged; /since he does not believe in the name of the only begotten son of God.); a to d minor; 2/2 alle breve.

Cantata 68 Challenges, Bach’s Responses

A perspective on the challenges facing Bach and his responses in Cantata 68 is considered in Julian Mincham’s Commentary Introduction,

<<It really is impossible to second-guess the astonishing mind of Johann Sebastian Bach. Just as you seem to detect a pattern in his thinking or compositional planning, he surprises you. Following C 1, which heralded the 1725 Easter celebrations, he appeared to terminate his plan of commencing with a chorale fantasia (see chapters 1 and 41). But after six works (Cs 6–87) he revived the practice in C 128 (chapter 46). And in C 68, a couple of weeks later, he produces a second fantasia, perhaps tempting us to assume that he was still intending to return to the original strategy.

But we would be wrong in this assumption. This cantata is an anomaly because it is the only one in the cycle that does not conclude with a four-part setting of the chorale. Furthermore, the last movement has, as we shall see, certain other characteristics that make it unique. Thus does C 68 stand both within and outside the structural format of the second cycle; there is no equivalent work in the canon.

Two general points need to be made before we look at the individual movements. The first is the marked contrast in mood between the outer framing choruses and the inner two arias. Bach is perfectly capable of transforming a mood suddenly, often in the final aria or duet when he wishes our attention to focus upon an opposing attitude or argument. Put in simplistic terms, this might mean the holding out of hope where none had appeared to exist, or a reminder that sin and the devil are still around us, even when we appear to be fully enjoying God’s blessing. In this cantata the unequivocal assertions of faith and the joy that it brings are framed by stern warnings—-to achieve a state of grace we must trust in God—-if we do not, we are already judged guilty and condemned. This is a stark message, mitigated only by the extrovert elation of those who have been fortunate enough to achieve a state of grace through their faith-driven convictions.

The second general issue is the recurring one of Bach′s arrangements of movements from earlier works. In this case the two arias in C 68 originated in the Hunt cantata, C 208, written in 1713 (Dürr p 361: see vol 1, chapter 88). This secular work, composed while Bach was still in his twenties, was one of the most substantial of his early compositions in this form, lasting for well over tminutes. It is interesting to note that two of the best known of all his cantata movements originated there; that which was to become the soprano aria in C 68 and the ever popular ′Sheep may Safely Graze’.

C 4 aside, re-use of earlier movements is a rare event in this cycle. We saw that C 74, unusually, incorporated two from cycle 1 and parts of C 175 hark back to Cöthen; at this stage of his career Bach’s practice was generally to look back to his pre-Leipzig years. The ‘borrowing’ for C 68 demonstrates again that, although Bach was prolific in re-using secular music for religious purposes he seems to have made little or no distinction between secular and ecclesiastical compositional styles.>>

Pentecost Monday Performance Calendar

Bach’s Pentecost Monday performance calendar in Leipzig involved three original cantatas: 5 May 1724, solo Cantata BWV 173, “Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut, / Das Gott selbst an sich nimmt” (Exalted flesh and blood / which God himself accepts); 1725 chorus Cantata “Also hat Gott die Welt geliesacred with all my heart), set to a published Picander text of 1728-29. It is possible that Bach presented a parody version of BWV Anh. 6, “Dich loben, see lieblichen Strahlen,” on 17 May 1723 (Pentecost Monday) at the Leipzig University Church, although only the Hunold/Menantes text survives for New Year’s 1720 in Köthen, music lost.

There is no documentation of a Pentecost Monday cantata performance on 10 June 1726. There is a slight possibility of the use of a Johann Ludwig Bach Cantata (1726 Rudolstadt text, music lost), or Telemann Cantata TVWV 1:634=BWV 218, “<Gott der Hoffnung erfulle euch>” (May the God of Hope fill you); or a repeat of Cantata BWV 173. On 2 June 1727, Cantata 173 probably was reperformed in the Thomas Church in the morning and the Nikolaikirchke in the afternoon. On 14 May 1731, Cantata 173 was reperformed in the Thomas Church in the morning and the Nikolaikirche in the afternoon in its final version.

Cantata 173 is a virtual parody (six of eight movements, same order) with text substitution (new text underlay) from the Köthen serenade, BWV173a, “Durchlauchtster Leopold” (Most Serene Highness Leopold). The unpublished text, possibly by Johann Friedrich Helbig, was for Prince Leopold’s birthday, 12 December 1722). Cantata 174 performing parts were completed on 5 June 1729 and performed the next day. It has an opening sinfonia with six woodwinds added, from Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, BWV 1048, composed in Cöthen. Bach reused instrumental materials as cantata opening sinfonias in some 15 Leipzig cantatas, mostly between 1725 and 1729. On 21 May 1736, Bach presented Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel’s Cantatas “Wie sollte er uns mit ihm nicht alles schenken?” (He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us al (KJV), Romans 8:32), Mus. A 15:203, and “Daran ist erschienen die Liebe Gottes” (In this was manifested the love of God toward us (KJV), 1 John 4:9, Mus. A 15:204.

Cantata 68 Parts, Text, Parody

The surviving parts set of Cantata 68, the original copying, the Ziegler text with changes and the parody transformation are described in Thomas Braatz’s Cantata 68 Provenance BCW article, (April 2, 2003,, primarily based on the NBA KB 1/14 (see Footnote 1). <<The Autograph Score: It can be assumed that the autograph score still existed until some point in time after the 1st performance. It, along with the doublets of the instrumental parts (1st & 2nd violins and untransposed continuo,) were lost early on. Other existing scores in manuscript form from the 19th century are based upon the original set of parts and not the autograph score.

The Original Set of Parts: These were presented to the St. Thomas School by Bach’s widow at the time of his death. They are now located in the Bach-Archiv in Leipzig. The parts are as follows: 1. Soprano; 2. Alto 3. Tenore; 4. Baßo; 5. Corne; 6. Trombona 1, 7. Trombona 2; 8. Trombona 3; 9. Hautbois 1mo;10. Hautbois 2; 11. Taille; 12. Violino 1mo; 13. Violino Secondo; 14. Viola; 15. Violoncello piccolo; 16. Continuo; 17. Continuo (transposed, figured). [Parts set (Facsimile): D-LEb Thomana 68 [Bach Digital],; Copyists: Kuhnau, Johann Andreas (1703–after1745) = Main Copyist A; Meißner, Christian Gottlob (1707–1760); Bach, Johann Sebastian. Provenance: J. S. Bach - Anna Magdalene Bach (1750) - Leipzig, Thomasschule (1750) - Leipzig Bach-Archiv (1985, since 1951); doublets are lost.]

The fact that there are fewer copyists involved in copying out these parts is misleading since other copyists would certainly have been used to copy the doublets (usually copying from the already existing parts.) Bach personally copied the brass parts from the score (which probably did not exist in the score and most likely were copied directly from the vocal parts in the score.) 3 other copyists were involved in copying out the remaining parts with Bach correcting, revising and adding details as necessary.

Date of Composition: Dürr has placed the 1st performance as having taken place on May 21, 1725. This is based on the type of paper used and the copyists involved. In particular, Copyist 1 [Johann Andreas Kuhnau] appears only in 1725 and not before or after this year. Also, there is a connection with all the other cantatas using a text by Mariane von Ziegler. These cantatas belong only to the 1725.

Text: The text for this cantata was printed in Christiane Mariane von Ziegler’s text “Versuch | In | Gebundener | Schreib-Art | Leipzig, | Bey John. Friedrich Brauns sel. Erben, 1728” pp. 262-3. Since the cantata was composed 3 years earlier than the actual printing of the text, it is assumed that Bach made whatever changes in the text occur in the cantata.

Some changes are: Bach : Printed Text: Mvt. 1 Line 4: bey ihm leben | mit ihm leben. Mvt. 2 Lines 1, 2, 4: Mein gläubiges Hertze | Getröstetes Hertze; frohlocke, sing, schertze | Frohlocke und schertze; Weg Jammer, weg Klagen | Weg Kummer und Plagen. Mvt. 3, Lines 3, 6: daß mich mein Jesus nicht vergessen | Ist, daß mein Heyland mich ohnmöglich kann vergessen / als Mittler zwischen Gott und Mensch vor dißmahl schlichten | Durch die besondre Lieb und Huld, Als Mittler zwischen GOTT und Menschen, völlig schlichten. Mvt. 4, Line 2: das glaub ich | Ich glaub’ es.

Cantata 68 (No. 3) contains the words “Er kam nicht nur, die Welt zu richten” which relate to John 3:17: “Denn Gott hat seinen Sohn nicht gesandt in die Welt, daß er die Welt richte.” Mvt. 5, John 3:18 also connects with the Gospel for 2nd Day of Pentecost, but the differences between the cantata text and the Bible text are negligible. Another biblical connection is a reference in mvt. 3 “Ich bin mit Petro nicht vermessen” that can be related to Acts 10:26 and at the same time connects with the Epistle for this special 2nd Day of Pentecost (Acts. 10: 42-48.) The lack of a final chorale has led to the question whether the text is complete, but this seems to have been Ziegler’s intention.

The Parodies: Bach used earlier compositions as the basis for this cantata. The two arias were derived from the secular cantata BWV 208 “Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd” first performed on February 23, 1713(?) for the birthday of Duke Christian von Sachsen-Weißenfels. Here are the connections: BWV 68/2, soprano aria (new vocal line), “Mein gläubiges Herze”, from BWV 208/13, “Weil die wollenreichen Herden,” with its reference to sheep flocks rich in wool. The bass aria, BWV 68/4, ”Du bist geboren mir zugute” is parodied from BWV 208/7, “Ein Fürst ist seines Landes Pan”
[The BWV 68/2 aria closing ritornello is an appendix instrumental movement, “Canonic Trio Sonata in F major,” BWV 1040 (,_BWV_1040. “This trio section, which grows out of the material allotted to the violoncello piccolo (originally continuo part) and is half as long as the aria itself, is another barrowing from the earlier Weimar piece, where it perhaps served as a separate movement,” says Nicholas Anderson in his Cantata 68 essay.3 ]

The text BWV 68/2: “Mein gläubiges Herze, / frohlocke, sing, scherze, / dein Jesus ist da! Weg Jammer, weg Klagen, / ich will euch nur sagen: / Mein Jesus ist nah.” [My faithful heart, / rejoice, sing, be merry, / your Jesus is here! / Away with sorrow, away with lamentation / I shall just say to you: / my Jesus is close.] The original text BWV 208/13: “ Weil die wollenreichen Herzen / durch dies weitgepriesne Feld / lustig ausgetrieben werden, lebe dieser Sachsenheld!” [While the flocks rich in wool / through this widely honoured field / are joyfully driven, / long live this hero of Saxony!]. The aria was parodied again as “Danke Gott, dab er in Segen” (No. 5) in the Town Council Cantata, BWV Anh. 193, “Herrscher des Himmels, König der Ehren” (Ruler of heaven, king of all honor; Z. Philip Ambrose), 29 August 1740, where the closing da-capo gigue-style chorus (No. 7), “Es Falle jetzt,” originated as the closing chorus (No. 15), “Ihr lieblichste Blicke,” in Cantata 208 and also was parodied as the opening chorus of the c.1728 Michaelfest Cantata BWV 149, “Man singet mit Freuden” (One sings with joy, Psalm 118:15), to a Picander text. Interestingly, the best-known aria in Cantata 208/9, known as “Sheep may safely graze,” apparently was never parodied in a Leipzig sacred cantata.

The text BWV 68/4: “Du bist geboren mir zugute, / das glaub ich, mir ist wohl zumute, / weil du vor mich genung getan. / Das Rund der Erde mag gleich brechen, / will mir der Satan widersprechen, / so bet ich dich, mein Heiland, an.” [You have been born for my benefit, / I believe this, this gives me confidence, / since what you have done is enough for me. / Though the circle of the earth may split apart / though Satan wants to speak against me. / yet I worship you, my saviour.] The original text BWV 208/7: “Ein Fürst ist seines Landes Pan, / gleichwie der Körper ohne Seele / nicht leben, noch sich regen kann, / so ist das Land die Totenhöhle, / das sonder Haupt und Fürsten ist / und so das beste Teil vermißt” [A prince is the Pan of his country! / Just as the body without the soul / cannot live nor move / so is that country a grave for the dead / that is without its head and prince / and in this way is lacking its best part.]

Motet Chorus. One of the characteristics of the nine Ziegler cantatas for Easter-Pentecost 1725 is the extensive use of the Johannine Vox Christi/Dei settings as choruses, arias and recitatives, particularly found as opening biblical dicta choruses in the first sacred cantata cycle. Unity through diversity in Bach’s musical treatment are noteworthy in the Ziegler cantatas, observes Mark A. Peters in his study, “The Significance of the Vox Christi for Ziegler and for Bach.”4 In contrast to the Ziegler Johannine choruses in Cantata 103/1 (Jubilate), 74/1 (Pentecost Sunday), and 176/1 (Trinityfest), Bach closes Cantata 68 with a strict, somber 2/2 alle breve motet chorus,, a reverse of the usual procedure, opening with a chorale setting less strict than the usual chorale fantasia settings of the chorale cantatas. Both BWV 68/5 closing chorus and 108/4 central chorus are grounded in the German motet tradition, without independent instrumental parts but with imitative texture and both are related to Bach’s five Vox Christi choruses in his first Leipzig cycle: 24/3, 77/1, 65/1, 144/1, and 37/1, “each of which is fairly short and inclined toward an older musical style.” Thus Bach in Cantata 68 framed the best of both worlds, opening chorale chorus and closing biblical dictum chorus motet, having his unique musical cake and eating it, too!

Cantata 68: Tonality, Theology

Bach adds a further dimension to the closing chorus motet of Cantata 68/5 with the double fugue treatment and the reaffirmation in the closing d minor key of the opening chorale chorus, observed Eric Chafe in his tonal study of the Bach cantatas.5 Tonally, “the systematic rise from d minor to C Major over the first four movements exults in God’s love as manifested in Christ’s incarnation,” he says. The two internal parodied arias, particularly joyful in tone” creates a decidedly “majestic character” to Cantata 68, while “the simple association of worldly and divine glory through the medium of music is not problematic, particularly the bass aria (no. 4 in C Major) originally (BWV 208/7) “one of the most overt paeans to the baroque ruler,” Duke Christian of Weißenfels. For the closing motet, Bach begins in the C Major relative of a minor with a double fugue, contrasting those who believe in Jesus Christ (a minor) with those who don’t believe (d minor), both fugal subjects “rather severe in tone,” “first heard separately then in combination.” This is the Johannine of present eschatology that “perceives the division of worlds in terms of above and below rather than present and future,” between the worlds of those who are not judged and those who already are judged. The “assertion of divine majesty” in Cantata 68 prevails over the two distinct spheres in the cautionary ending key of d minor.

Ziegler’s textual emphasis in Cantata 68 focuses on the first three verses of John’s iconic Gospel theme, 3:16-18 with their themes of God’s love, faith as the key to salvation, and the question of judgment,” observes Chafe in his recent study, “The Cantatas for the Spring of 1725: Exaudi and Pentecost: Cantatas 183, 74, 68, and 175.”6 The three final Gospel verses (John 3:19-21) dealing with light and darkness Ziegler will utilize in Cantata 176 for Trinityfest, closing the de tempore (Proper Time) of the first half of the church year centering on Jesus Christ from his original incarnation as man to incarnation of the rebirth through love in the Holy Spirit.

The opening chorale chorus paraphrases the positive incarnational directive (John 3:16, KJV): “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. The purpose is explained in the next verse, John 3:17, KJV): “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” This is paraphrased in the closing of the central (no. 3) bass Vox Christi recitative: “He came not to judge the world / no. no, as mediator between God and man he wanted / to reconcile sin and guilt for ever.” Finally, Cantata 68 closes with a paraphrase of the next line (John 3:18): “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” The closing motet chorus Vox Christi says: “Who believes in him will not be judged; / but who does not believe is already judged; /since he does not believe in the name of the only begotten son of God.

Despite the cautionary choice in the closing chorus and its ending in d minor, Cantata 68 in Ziegler’s conception is a “joyful of Pentecost,” says Chafe (Ibid.: 533). It “has distinct affinities with the message of Christmas.” “Ziegler’s emphasis on Jesus’s birth in Cantata 68 is remarkable (although it has a long pedigree in medieval exegis.” Because of God’s love for the word, God gives his son to those who believe that Jesus was born for them and in aria (No. 4), “You have been born for my benefit.” Cantata 68 “projects to joyful tone associated with the presence of Jesus at Christmas” in the soprano aria (No. 2) addressed to the Johannine “faithful heart”: “Your Jesus is here!” At both ends of the de tempore (Proper Time) is the coming of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ birth and the return of the Holy Spirit in Christ’s rebirth, or second incarnation, within the believer’s heart, coming full circle, “thereby completing the message of Christmas and expanding on the indwelling as told in [Pentecost Sunday] Cantata 74.”

“All of this analysis in central to Luther’s concept of the Holy Spirit,” says Chafe (Ibid.: 534). Christ is conceived by the Holy Spirit so that the believer is justified by the grace of God alone and the work of the Spirit. This spiritual exegesis means “that the literal incarnation of Christ is interpreted as his mystica incarntio by which he is spiritually born in the believer,” says Chafe quoting author Regin Prenter. The original coming of Christ in the flesh (incarnate) is duplicated in his final, spiritual coming. In terms of the coming Trinity Season, ones tempore (Ordinary Time), its emphasis is on Jesus coming in judgment in the Johannine concept of judgment in the present – realized eschatology – that is the key to Ziegler’s text.” While all three Ziegler-texted cantatas for the 1725 Pentecost Festival (BWV 74, 68, and 175) “center on the theme of love as the basis of the relationship between God and humankind, only Cantata 68 makes the point that it was God’s love of the world that prompts the incarnation,” says Chafe.

The tonal movement in Cantata 86 begins with the chorale paraphrase announcing “the potentially redeemed world as the ‘ground’ and foundation of the believer’s hope,” says Chafe (Ibid.: 535). Refashioned in 12/8 siciliano dance style, it “offers overtones of the pastorale as well as of entreaty,” says Chafe, and also “to symbolize the graciousness of the Father,” says W. Gillies Whittaker on his study “Cantatas Containing Borrowed Material.”7 The pattern of cadences at the end of each hymn lines is an “ascent-descent curve,” says Chafe, within the tones of the triad or Trinitarian symbol and “anticipating the text of the last movement (John 3:18), “making clear the crucial role of faith.”

The succeeding soprano aria, “Mein gläubiges Herze” (My faithful heart), no doubt symbolizing the Soul or Believer, the pastoral character of the gigue “emerges in very personal, immediate terms,” says Chafe (Ibid.: 536), “an analog of the joyful experience of faith and a direct connection with the pastorale imagery “ of Bach’s two Good Shepherd cantatas, BWV 175 for Pentecost Tuesday and Cantata 85 for Miesericordias Domini (2nd Sunday after Easter). The trio closing ritornello, based on the joyful continuo melody of the aria, depicts “joy to which nothing can be compared,” a joy beyond words, producing the most popular aria that Bach ever wrote,” says Whittaker (Ibid.: I: 53).

The second aria (No. 4) “sensitively marches Ziegler’s emphasis on Jesus’s work of salvation over that of judgment in her paraphrase of John 3:17,” says Chafe (Ibid.). It “externalizes the message of joy” in the soprano aria, “representing the benefits of faith in the purpose of Jesus’s incarnation” and reinforcing the meaning of Jesus’ incarnational birth in the opening movement.

The motto from John 3:18 that closes Cantata 68 is painted in somber color, derived from the text alternative of judgment and salvation in the present life, reinforced with the somber brass doubling the vocal lines with coronetto and three trombones. The closing in d minor “this striking emphasis on the negative aspect of the text, places the joy of the preceding movements in a perspective that does not sky away from the fearful implications of John’s mutually exclusive alternatives” of judgment in belief of Jesus Christ or condemnation in disbelief.

Pentecost Monday Cantata Distribution

In the 1750 estate distribution of Bach’s cantatas for Pentcost Monday, The period Cantata 173 in the first cycle shows that Emmanuel received the parts set and the surviving score probably went to Friedemann. In the second cycle distribution, the chorale-titled Cantata 68 surviving parts set went to Friedemann instead of Anna Magdalena and the lost score presumably also to Friedemann. The post-second cycle Cantata 174 distribution shows that the surviving score and parts set probably went to Friedemann.


1 Cantata 68 BCW Details & Discography, Score Vocal & Piano,; Score BGA, References: BGA XVI (Cantatas 61-70, Wilhelm Rust, 1868), NBA KB I/14 (Pentecost Monday, Alfred Dürr, 1963), Bach Compendium BC A 86, Zwang K 125; editions, Hänssler (Hans Grischkat 1963), Bärenreiter (Dürr, 1963).
2 Martin Petzoldt, Bach Kommentar: Theologisch Musikwissenschaftlicke Kommentierung der Geistlichen Vokalwerke Johann Sebastan Bachs; Vol. 2, Die Geistlichen Kantaten vom 1. Advent bis zum Trinitatisfest; Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2007: 1020).
3 Nicholas Anderson in Oxford Composer Companions: J. S. Bach (Oxford University Press: 1999: 10).
4 Mark A. Peters, A Woman’s Voice in Baroque Music: Mariane von Ziegler and J. S. Bach (Aldershot GB & Burlington VT: Ashgate Publishing, 92ff).
5 Eric Chafe, Tonal Allegory in the Vocal Music of J. S. Bach (Berkeley CA: University of California Press: 210).
6 Eric Chafe, J. S. Bach’s Johannine Theology: The St. John Passion and the Cantatas for Spring 1725 (Oxford University Press, 2014: 532ff).
7 W. Gillies Whittaker, The Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach (London: Oxford University Press, 1958: II:55).


To Come Cantata 68 Klaus Hofmann and John Eliot Gardiner commentaries.

Aryeh Oron wrote (July 15, 2017):
Cantata BWV 68 - Revised & updated Discography

Cantata BWV 68 "Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt" (God so loved the world) was composed by J.S. Bach in Leipzig for Whit Monday [2nd Day of Pentecost] of 1725. The cantata was performed again in Leipzig on the same event betwen 1735 and 1740. The cantata is scored for soprano & bass soloists; 4-part Chorus; and orchestra of (3 trumpets), horn, cornett, 3 trombones, 2 oboes, taille/oboe da caccia, 2 violins, viola, violoncello piccolo & continuo.

The discography pages of BWV 68 on the BCW have been revised and updated. See:
Complete Recordings (25):
Recordings of Individual Movements (109):
The revised discography includes many listening/watching options as part of the recording details. When you click a link to video/audio, a new window will open above the discography page and the video/audio will start to play.

I also put at the BCW Home Page:
2 audios & 2 videos of the cantata. A short description below the audio/video image is linked to the full details at the discography pages.

The number of recordings of individual movements has almost doubled since the previous version of these discography pages. I had to add many performer discographies & performer biographies, as you can see at the page "What New on the BCW?":

I believe this is the mocomprehensive discography of this cantata. If you are aware of a recording of BWV 68 missing from these pages, or want to correct/add details of a recording already presented on the BCW, please do not hesitate to inform me.

You can also read on the BCW the recent discussion of the cantata in the BCML (4th round):




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Last update: Monday, September 11, 2017 15:25